NEWS

Occupy Canada Braces For Winter Weather

11/06/2011 05:04 EST | Updated 01/06/2012 05:12 EST
AP

Protesters camping out for the Canadian Occupy movement are bracing for a teeth-chattering winter, as mayors and police in several cities ramp up the pressure to drive demonstrators out of public areas.

The mission to weather-proof flimsy tents in preparation for freezing temperatures has become a priority in some cities, with the Toronto camp dispatching a "winterization" team to devise ways to combat the cold.

Vancouver's protest may not last into the colder months, now that the encampment's future is in doubt following the death of a 20-year-old woman Saturday.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the loss of a life — reportedly due to a drug overdose — has proven that the encampment is no longer safe and must be dismantled "as soon as possible."

"When lives are lost, we clearly have to take steps," Robertson told reporters.

'We will not agree to go peacefully'

In a challenge to the mayor, a Vancouver protest organizer identified only as Kiki said the campers would not move without putting up a struggle.

"No, we will not agree to go peacefully," Kiki said.

Elsewhere in B.C., the mayor of Victoria, Dean Fortin, said it's time to start negotiating an end to the protest camp there. Police will begin handing out pamphlets to demonstrators informing them they must begin to vacate.

"If we are forced to take steps, the steps will be through progressive enforcement of asking them to leave, ticketing and then talking to the courts," Fortin said.

For the Occupy Toronto group at St. James Park, protesters living there for the past four weeks shared the space with a Remembrance Day ceremony that took place Sunday.

Toronto police also arrested a protester and charged him with assault and assault with a weapon. It was the first serious charge laid by police since the protesters began camping out at the downtown park.

Police were called to the park by other protesters after the man allegedly threatened one person with a metal guitar and threw a can of beer at another.

Occupy Halifax makes room for Remembrance Day

Meanwhile, in Halifax protesters were leaving their site voluntarily to make way for Remembrance Day ceremonies scheduled to take place at the Grand Parade Square on Nov. 11.

Groups purchased brooms and began scrubbing down monuments. The rally is expected to relocate to Victoria Park, about a 15-minute walk away.

Despite dropping temperatures in Regina, the Occupy campers there said they have no plans to move.

In Manitoba, Occupy Winnipeg activists prepared for a chilly night, with snow moving in from Saskatchewan. It will be the first snow of the year to hit the camp, but many are nevertheless vowing to stay put, and are bracing for the weather by installing foam insulation in their tents and raising their sleeping bags on pallets.

In Quebec City, Mayor Régis Labeaume's order for Occupy protesters to tear down their camp on Thursday went ignored. The city has yet to enforce its order, but officials said they will soon.

Montreal's Occupy camp is still having regular visits from fire officials, who have said they are conducting regular checks to remind demonstrators about the need for fire safety, said Montreal fire spokeswoman Louise Desrosiers.